You're much more likely to spend less when you plan ahead!
Plan ahead to save on groceries:
Going to the grocery store soon? Stop! Before you go, make sure you take complete stock of what you already have in your kitchen so you can use that first. Do a thorough assessment of what you have to make sure that you really need everything you plan to buy at the store.
Once you've assessed your inventory, plan your meals for the week around what's already in your fridge or pantry, instead of adding to the shelves. Do you have half a bag of beans left? Try a make-your-own taco night. Have some tomatoes that are a little past their prime? Make tomato soup or gazpacho. Some more money-saving shopping ideas:
- Always plan out your menus for the week before you head to the store. This will keep you focused on buying only what is essential for the week and stop you from making impulse purchases.
- Read your store's circular in advance. Plan your menus for the week around what's on sale.
- Don't go to the grocery store hungry! Studies have shown that when people shop on an empty stomach, they spend more.
- Buy the store brand whenever you can.
- Don't bring your kids! If you don't want your kids asking you to buy items that aren't on your list, don't bring them with you.
Plan ahead to save on gift giving
You can save money throughout the year by planning your birthday and holiday gifts for friends and family in advance.
- Take some time today to make a list of the people you have to get presents for this year -- even if their birthdays or baby showers or weddings are months away.
- Think about what they are interested in, and write down gift ideas and thoughts on how you might get those gifts cheaply. Knowing which gifts you have to give in advance, you'll be able to shop clearance racks, sales, and other cheap venues with them in mind. Or you can plan to make them something, and actually give yourself enough time to do it!
- This blogger has a great guide to creating a gift-planning spreadsheet. You may want to use her template and fill in your own family and friends' details.
Plan ahead to save on vacations
Are you planning a summer vacation? Now's the time to plan so you can save as much as possible on your trip! Try some of these savings tips for your next vacation, and share your own budget vacation tips.
- Try renting a home or apartment instead of staying in a hotel. You'll get a cheaper rate per day, plus you'll have a kitchen so you don't have to eat out for every meal. Try VRBO.com to find available places in the locations you want to travel.
- Go camping!
- Planning a trip to Disney? Check out Mousesavers.com for the best deals.
- Travel in groups. You'll save money on home rentals if you can pack more people into the house and divide up the cost.
- Get local deals. Once you've decided on a destination, sign up for the local versions of discount sites like Groupon or Living Social, or look for coupons for attractions there in local magazines and newspapers.
How do you save money by planning ahead? Share your best tips in the replies below!